Monday, May 21, 2012

Canadian book challenge - 12th post

Definitely in the home stretch as far as reviewing goes.  If I actually am able to finish reading the three books I have lined up before this challenge ends, I will also have met my goal of reading and reviewing 13 different Canadian authors.

This marks my first review of one of Timothy Findley's novels.  He's definitely up there as far as my favorite Canadian authors.  I enjoyed both Headhunter and Not Wanted on the Voyage quite a bit.  I wasn't sure if I had read The Wars before or if it was Famous Last Words, but after a few pages in, it was clear to me that I had not read this book before.  While I don't think Findley was particularly influenced by Kroetsch's The Studhorse Man, there are a few parallels.  The somewhat unknown aspects of the character's inner life reconstructed from documentary evidence after the fact, the heavy foreshadowing of the main characters' tragic ends, some whorehouse hijinks, reflections on the "eternal" bond between man and horse (in both cases, the authors are well aware that mechanization has largely destroyed this relationship) and humans caring more for animal welfare than their own lives.  As a bit of an aside, I can find this at least plausible in a post-Romantic era, Naomi Wallace's One Flea Spare has a somewhat similar plot point, but the action occurs in 17th Century London and I have a really hard time believing that humans of that era would risk their lives for horses.

One thing that this novel apparently did was to sort of re-inscribe Canadian participation in WWI in  popular awareness (at least according to the introduction).  That part didn't really come across as clearly, in part because I have little interest in WWI and partly because, as an American, I've never felt "left out" of any of the major wars of the Twentieth Century.  It was certainly an interesting and fairly quick read, but not as rewarding to me as Headhunter.  Incidentally, the next book I am reviewing is an earlier book (MacLennan's Barometer Rising) that also looked at Canada's role in WWI and the impact that the war had on Canada.

This was review 12/13.

Edit Aug. 2014 -- this is an absurdly short and meager review for a book that has become part of the CanLit canon.  While I probably won't be rereading The Wars for quite some time (maybe not until the kids read it in high school!), when I do, I will try to do the book more justice in a second review.

No comments:

Post a Comment